ORIGINAL POST -News Blaze
Iran does not maintain relations with Israel, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoted on June 11 as saying Israel was “doomed.”
Egyptian witnesses reported seeing at least 12 U.S. war ships and one Israeli vessel passing through the Suez Canal on June 19 heading towards the Red Sea.
Ships from several countries, including Lebanon, have left or are planning to leave for Hamas-controlled Gaza in defiance of an Israeli maritime blockade on that territory. In the coming days, at least one Lebanese-organized ship is set to leave Tripoli for Gaza.
Already, key figures have said the main aim of the ships is to stage a public relations stunt and force Jews out of Israel.
“A day will come when the ships will carry the remainder of the European garbage which came to my homeland i.e., Israel and return them to their homelands. Gilad Shalit will go back to Paris and those murderers the leaders of Israel will go back to Poland,” said Free Palestine head Yasser Qashlaq, one of the organizers of the Naji Al Ali ship, which plans to travel to Cyrpus before heading to Gaza.
According to Egypt’s weekly Al-Ahram newspaper, Qashlaq is the “main donor” of the Lebanese Freedom Flotilla 2.
Lebanese Transportation Minister Ghazi Aridi said in a recent interview that one of the flotillas was designed as a public relations stunt.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement Wednesday (June 23) that “direct delivery by sea is neither appropriate nor responsible, and certainly not effective, under the circumstances.”
The Lebanese government granted the Naji Al Ali ship permission to sail to Cyprus, but Cypriot authorities are barring the ship from entering its waters, and Israel warned organizers that any attempt by Lebanese ships to sail into Israeli space would be a direct violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.
Israel told the United Nations that the Lebanese flotilla is “provocative”and would undermine regional security.
Organizers of a second Lebanese ship, the Mariam, an all-women passenger vessel, claim they will set sail soon from Lebanon, but some reports say the Mariam may be another name for the Naji Al Ali.
Said Aridi, “There is a campaign called ‘Mariam’, and the organisers of the campaign to lift the Gaza blockade did not say there was a vessel carrying that name…I do not know anything about a second aid ship.”
However, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Liwaa reported today (June 24) that the Lebanese government is seeking to halt the flotillas from reaching Gaza. The paper also noted that flotillas due to set sail from Iran also may be canceled.
On June 22, Iranian state television announced that a ship stocked with 1,100 tons of aid is due to leave Iran for Gaza on Sunday, June 27. However, a news report stated June 24 that the ship may not set sail, and that a different vessel carrying Iranian lawmakers and other Iranians would leave from Turkey instead.